Tennessee Senate Shelves Bill to Designate Bible as State Book

Bible Matthew pdNASHVILLE — The Tennessee Senate has voted to shelve a bill to designate the Bible as the state book just two days after the effort passed the state House of Representatives.

As previously reported, Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) introduced HB 615 earlier this year to amend the Tennessee Code to make the acknowledgment.

“The Holy Bible is hereby designated as the official state book,” it reads.

The bill was soon amended to include language outlining the Bible’s “historical and cultural significance in the state of Tennessee.”

“[T]he Tennessee State Library and Archives Bible collection contains Bibles with records dated between the late 18th century and the early 20th century, including those of many prominent Tennessee families,” it reads in part. “[P]rinting the Bible is a multi-million dollar industry for the state with many top Bible publishers headquartered in Nashville, including Thomas Nelson, Gideons International, and United Methodist Publishing House.”

Tennessee has a number of adopted state symbols that have been approved by the state legislature, as the tomato was designated the state fruit by the General Assembly in 2003, the Eastern boxing turtle was designated the state reptile in 1995, and the square dance was agreed upon as being the state dance in 1980. Tennessee also has several state songs, such as the “Tennessee Waltz” and “Rocky Top,” the latter of which sings of a girl who was “half bear, other half cat; wild as a mink, but sweet as soda pop.”

The bill had cleared both House and Senate committees this year, and had been approved by the full House 55-38 on Wednesday.

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“I am what I am because that Book made me what I am—the morals, the values,” Rep. Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) declared to those gathered.

“There are some things that are worth standing up for,” added Rep. Andy Holt (R-Weakley). “Markets, money and military are meaningless without morals. I think it’s time for our body to make a stand.”

But on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), proposed that the bill be sent back to committee for further review after Attorney General Herbert Slatery opined that the measure might violate the state and federal Constitutions.

“This isn’t the time or place now in the full Senate floor to delve into that,” Norris said. “We really need to look into it in committee.”

The lawmaker said that he believed that making the Bible the state book alongside designations for the state bird, state amphibian and state song demeaned and devalued the Scriptures.

“All I know is that I hear Satan snickering. He loves this kind of mischief,” Norris remarked. “You just dumb the Good Book down far enough to make it whatever it takes to make it a state symbol, and you’re on your way to where he wants you.”

The governor and lieutenant governor have expressed similar opinions.

“There’s nothing more important to me than my faith. I had time with the Bible this morning,” Gov. Bill Haslam, an elder at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, told reporters earlier this month. “But I don’t think it should be relegated to … like the salamander as the official lizard or whatever we call the different things we have official in our state.”

“I mean, the Bible is my official book; it is,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told the Tennessean. “It shouldn’t be put in the Blue Book with ‘Rocky Top,’ salamanders and tulip poplars. I’m sorry; it just shouldn’t.”

The bill was therefore shelved 22-9 on Friday, sending the matter back to committee for further analysis.


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  • UmustBKiddinMe

    Perhaps after reviewing the state’s rates of divorce and births to unwed mothers – both among the highest in the nation – they decided that designating the Bible as the state’s official book would be disingenuous.

  • weasel1886

    The leaders and people of the state have no intention of following it anyway

  • John Munro

    They also went against the peoples wishes and built the biggest mosque in North America in murfreesboro which makes me wonder .. do they want the things happening over seas here in America?

  • SFBruce

    The Kentucky AG is right: this would clearly violate the First Amendment, and Christians as well as all believers should welcome this. It would be just as wrong to make the Koran the state book, since the government must neither favor nor disfavor a particular religious tradition, and that’s exactly what the First Amendment demands.

    • Bill

      That’s just your opinion, nothing “clear” about it…..

      • Chris Gagnon

        Bill, you are an America-hating shithead. THIS IS AMERICA!!! That means NO RELIGION IN GOVERNMENT!!! NO ESTABLISHMENT OF ONE RELIGION OVER ANOTHER. If you don’t like it, move to Iran, where you will be happy, or israel, they are a terrorist theocracy too.

        • Bill

          Typical liberal. if you cant argue your point with facts, call names. LOL

          • Tristan A

            I think it is actually quite factual

          • Bill

            Of course you do……………….however if you folks would actually do your own research you’d know the truth. But you wont….and I’m ok with that.

          • Tristan A

            Which truth? Your truth? Many people claim to own the truth, but funny/sad enough those truths are very different from each other, causing death, suffering, etc. that is why civilized countries have a separation between religion and state. Because mixing the two leads to barbarism. Look at isis, look at israel, look at the crussades, look at burning people at the stake, the jewish pogroms, the condoning of mass killings of gay people in uganda, or closer at home, the bullying of gay teens at schools.

          • Bill

            There is only one truth concerning the subject at hand.

          • Tristan A

            That is your opinion and nothing more than that.

          • Bill

            Tristan A, Everything has a truth. At first people/scientists thought the earth was flat. Time proved it was round. The truth. At one time people/scientists thought all “stars” were alike. It was later proven they are not. The truth. At one time people/scientists thought “air” had no weight. Science now says it does. The truth. Everything has a truth……

          • Tristan A

            You dont know the difference between scientific proven facts (truths), and opinions. Belief systems are per definition not factual and therefore belong to the latter.

          • Bill

            Or maybe you don’t understand.

          • Tristan A

            What is there to understand?

  • BarkingDawg

    What’s the matter with those people? Have they all gone sane?